April 13, 2019
Today's blog features music videos by Carrie Underwood, Destiny's Child, and the Hollies. What kind of lawsuit, you may wonder, would prompt such an oddball array of tunes? Well, howsabaout I tease you with the fact that we got a wife suing Safra Securities LLC because she claims the firm's bank officer had an affair with her husband! Oh . . . so now you're intrigued? Oh . . . so now, maybe, just maybe, you're gonna make some time to read today's article? Oh . . . yeah, sure, it's only because there's an important legal-regulatory-compliance-jurisdictional issue involved and you're such a serious person. And why are you smiling and laughing when you say "jursidictional" -- as if you'd find "respondeat superior" anywhere near as funny?
Postage stamps are tokens. You buy them for cash and you use them to pay for mail services instead of taping coins or dollar bills to your envelope. A token, by anyone's definition, is not a security, but it took an SEC no-action letter to assure us. Turnkey Jet (TKJ) leases private business jets. It decided to set up a private blockchain and issue tokens to its members in order maximize the efficiency of its operations. TKJ's members include end-users, jet brokers, and other air transport companies. Each TKJ token is worth a dollar, and TKJ says it will always be worth a dollar, even if the cost of air travel increases. Once purchased, they are refundable only at a discount. Members can use the tokens only to pay for air charter services, not to invest in TKJ. The tokens can be transferred, but only to other TKJ members. TKJ will market the tokens only as a way to pay for air services, and not as an investment opportunity.
Today's blog presents the disturbing case of a suspended lawyer. The lawyer was employed as an Arbitration Counsel with the New York Stock Exchange before she was admitted to the Bar. About two decades after ending her first stint as a NYSE Arbitration Counsel, the lawyer returned to NYSE in that same capacity; except, in the ensuing period she had been suspended from the practice of law in New York State. All of which made NYSE a two-time-loser that employed an unadmitted lawyer as a counsel and then employed that same lawyer as a counsel while she was suspended. Making matters worse, while suspended, this same lawyer served as an Arbitrator with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") and she held herself out to potential litigants as a duly registered attorney! Not the best example of legal ethics by the suspended lawyer. Not the best example of due diligence by NYSE or FINRA. Certainly, this lawyer seems headed for disbarment. -- or so you'd think. Think again. And while you're re-thinking, consider how the misfortunes of life inject themselves into our professional careers.
In the end, we all die; but in that end, there may be some opportunities for third parties to make a profit from your death. Only Wall Street would run such a macabre casino. In a recent FINRA regulatory settlement, we come upon the somewhat ghoulish business of viatical settlements. If the odds work out in your favor, your parlay should yield a profit; however, sometimes folks die sooner than expected and upend all the mortality tables underpinning the investment. Then again, even if the die come out in your favor on a viatical settlement, you're going to die also, and maybe some investor will place a bet on your life expectancy, and, wow, it could go on and on and on like that! Frankly, it's a sucker's bet because no matter what, Death always wins in the end.
As I understood the Ten Commandments -- particularly as presented in Technicolor in the 1956 Cecile B. DeMille movie with Charlton Heston as Moses -- the "Thou Shall Nots" were things that you "must" not do. Shall is not "should." The word "shall" does not invite negotiation or debate. Shall is not a suggestion. After all, it was all carved in stone and considered the law from on high. All of which makes you wonder about FINRA NTM 19-10, which is as shameful a bit of garbage as FINRA has ever published. A firm "should" provide its public customers with timely and complete answers? Should? Should?? Not "shall" or "must" as is used throughout so many FINRA Rules. Only "should." What a wonderful bit of dissembling. In using "should," FINRA dilutes FINRA NTM 19-10 to a relatively meaningless aspiration for its member firms to be honest with their customers concerning the facts about a departing registered rep.